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Embrace your Space

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Christine McDonald

Summer 2018

Embrace your Space


When you say ‘what if’ to yourself, let it inspire you towards the possibilities and not towards the fear of the unknown.

Many years ago, I remember driving home with my father after band practice in the Irish countryside. It was a typical day, like any other and I couldn’t have been more than 14 years old. We were driving home through the dark countryside when my father decided to pull the car over to the left-hand side. He said, ‘Let’s get out for a minute.’ Wondering what my father was doing and tired from playing tunes all evening, I wasn’t in the mood to wander around outside, freezing in the middle of nowhere. When we got out of the car, my father said to me ‘look up’ and when I looked up, all I could see were hundreds upon thousands of stars in the sky above us. The sky was ablaze with light and we could not help but be temporarily drawn into another world where we just stood in awe.

I remember feeling the vastness of the space all around me and feeling so small suddenly. I did not know it at the time, but this was the most precious memory my father could have given and shared with me, as I now look back and remember just how special it was to feel connected to something greater than myself. The mystery, the wonder and the awe of life itself, always inspired me to go where I had not ventured before and to explore.

I made a pact with myself to never lose that wonder I had felt that evening when I was stargazing with my father. The ‘what if’ the universe presents us with is almost incalculable.

Growing up, I, of course, became lost in the noise of my mind and the stresses and strains of ‘getting by’, I forgot just how easy it was to just be. I (like many others I would say) was determined to find my purpose in life. Who was I and where was I going? I have always been a restless spirit. I have always jumped from one interest to another, continually searching for something that would give me that ‘ah-ha!’ moment that would give me a sense of purpose. The search for purpose and meaning is the driver behind many of our stories. We spend the majority of our lives looking for meaning and defining the purpose of our existence through what we do. Learning to cope with OCD was something that I feel I did despite all odds. (I didn’t even know I had this until later in life or if it had a name!)

Little did I know that I was actually concealing myself from the world around me and not my ‘illness’

Feeling like I was ‘going quietly mad’ was something I became accustomed to (and very good at concealing from the world around me). Little did I know that I was actually concealing myself from the world around me and not my ‘illness’. I had not embraced who I truly was and that fear was the driver behind some of the worst anxiety I had encountered. Experiencing feelings of dread and depression on a daily basis was something I became very familiar with. I was not being me and of course, logically, that was going to cause a massive conflict between the person I was and the person I thought I should be (and what other people thought I should be). I grew up trying to please everyone except myself.

Since joining the Quest family, I have finally realised what it means to be a human being. I have learned to treat myself with the compassion that I would show to others and to value myself as someone who can just simply be who I am without having to justify this with a reason. Sometimes there isn’t a reason. Sometimes there is not a purpose. I had become so obsessed with finding out what my purpose is and defining who I am that I actually missed the wood for the trees. Just being you could be the purpose you need.

Learning to embrace the space that is ‘you’ is something that I have only recently started to do. It has been a real lesson in appreciating who you really are without wondering if there is something you lack or if someone is smarter, better looking or more successful than who you perceive yourself to be. These questions are superfluous. The only question you need to ask yourself is ‘Am I being true to myself?’. This requires you to know who you really are. The relationship you have with yourself is probably the most significant one you will have in your life. You are a part of (and reflection) of the whole. You are enough, just as you are. All you need to do is to realise this. What could be more perfect and wonderful than the being you are?

Just like the beautiful night sky with the countless billions of stars, you also are just as beautiful and as wondrous.

There are no limits to your potential and what you can achieve (except in your mind). I spent my life wanting to feel connected to the world around me and not as an outsider. I always wondered why I felt so lonely. I realised that I was imposing isolation upon myself by disconnecting from my true self. That was a choice I made that took me along a road where I felt I had to justify my existence through doing rather than being. Making friends with myself is something I never thought I had to do. Being at peace with the many aspects of who you are may not be the nicest or easiest thing to do – in fact, it may be the most challenging thing you EVER do!

Looking in the mirror and saying ‘I like myself just as I am’ can be uncomfortable.

Knowing that there is nothing you need to add to yourself to make yourself worthwhile and valued is an incredible feeling to experience.

Just feeling Ok as you are and being comfortable with yourself can open up your true potential and capabilities for you and for other people. I used to look at people who I loved being around, who could make me laugh and uplift me and ask ‘What is their secret? Why is it so easy for them?’. The answer – they are just being themselves! There is nothing easier than just being yourself and yet for so long it seemed like the hardest thing of all. Cognitive Hypnotherapy showed me just how much choice I actually have when it comes to choosing who I want to be.

The potential for change is only as limited as our perception allows and when I decided to choose the person I have most fun being, I started to enjoy being me. (It only took me 35 years to realise that!)

We have always been learning and the learning never stops. This realisation can be quite humbling. We can never say ‘we know it all’ as that would be the completion of growth. We have an extraordinary capacity to make whatever choice we need to at any given moment. This could be as simple as deciding what to eat for breakfast or if you will choose to smile at your co-worker. These choices may seem small, but their ripple effect can be quite powerful. I think one of the important lessons is to realise that you always have a choice. We choose our reactions to the situations we find ourselves in and we have the power to change things in ways we can only imagine.

I am glad that my dad stopped the car. I did not realise then that by taking a few minutes to simply look up and allow myself to be filled with the beauty of the present moment, I would see life from a completely different perspective.

When you say ‘what if’ to yourself, let it inspire you towards the possibilities and not towards the fear of the unknown.

Qualifying as a therapist is just the beginning of another journey of discovery. This is a journey I wanted to take for years but had never ‘got round to doing’. I had too many excuses. Thankfully my belief and motivation is stronger than that. There are miracles all around us and they are just waiting for us to discover them. One of my favourite quotes by Rumi is:

‘You are the universe in ecstatic motion.’

This inspires me to realise that we are all a part of the journey of life and that life is now. We choose the path. If you ever feel any doubt, remember – all you have to do is look up.